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How to Zero Your Scope

by Robert Preston
A prone position keeps your shots steady and consistent, making the zeroing process quicker and more accurate.

A prone position keeps your shots steady and consistent, making the zeroing process quicker and more accurate.

Scopes on a rifle allow a hunter to precisely aim his shots; a magnified scope allows a hunter a better view of animals that are far away. Before a scope can be effectively used in the field to score a hit, however, the scope must be calibrated so that rounds fired hit where the scope shows they will. The act of finding the proper alignment for a scope at a firing range is known as "zeroing," and should always be completed after changing scopes.

  1. Draw two black dots on a piece of cardboard, approximately 3 inches apart.

  2. Set up the cardboard square at a safe firing location so that the dots are vertically aligned. Do not test fire your rifle in an area where others could accidentally walk into your shooting line.

  3. Aim at the target from a prone position about 10 to 15 feet away, with the scope aligned over the top dot.

  4. Fire at the target, then repeat a second time to ensure that the first shot was an accurate representation of the scope's alignment.

  5. Adjust the windage knob, located on the side of the scope, to move the scope in the direction the dot is relative to your shots. For example, if your shots are too far left, adjust the scope right. Do not adjust elevation at this point.

  6. Keep firing and adjusting until your scope is accurately aligned left to right.

  7. Adjust the vertical elevation knob on top of the scope until your shots strike the dot.

  8. Move to 30 feet from the target and fire at the top dot and adjust as needed.

  9. Fire from 100 feet away and make final adjustments to the scope.

Items you will need

  • Cardboard
  • Marker

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images